Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Las Vegas

I'm still struggling, like we all are, to understand the attack in Las Vegas. How does a man get 23 firearms, including long guns and scopes, into a hotel room without anyone noticing? How does an outwardly normal late-middle-aged guy with a clean record (despite his criminal father) commit such an atrocity? How can someone so deranged walk among us undetected? It's a strange, strange situation. And one that, I cynically believe, will not change gun culture in the United States one whit. If the assassinations of the 1960s didn't do it, if Newtown didn't do it, if all the other mass shootings that have afflicted our land didn't do it, this won't either.

After all, this isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. Remember Charles Whitman at the University of Texas in 1966? More than fifty years ago! The Vegas shooting killed many more people, owing I suppose to the density of the crowd and the efficiency of modern weaponry, but just as it's hard to argue now for any reason why we should continue to allow guns to proliferate, it was hard then, too. The gun lobby usually argues that well-armed citizens could take out a shooter before he does much damage, but how can they resist when the shooter is high up in a building?

Guns. They are a national disease in the United States. A national mental illness, really. I don't know why some Americans see guns as such an elemental part of their culture. I haven't touched a gun since summer camp in the 1970s, and I've never understood the gun mentality.

OK. Enough of that. I have no answers.

You will be glad to know that, on "Peyton Place," Selena did get acquitted of murder, and Constance did wind up with Michael, and Alison did reconcile with Constance, and Norman was still hanging around at the end. At least in fiction, all's well that ends well.

I've been trying to get Olga's Go-Pro camera functioning, but it turns out the memory card I bought for it doesn't work (because there are about a million different kinds of mini memory cards out there, and the one touted as the "best seller" on Amazon apparently doesn't fit a Go-Pro camera). I tried to buy another one last night, but weirdly, I'm not sure the order went through. I'm going to wait a few days and hopefully it will turn up in the mail.

(Photo: An autumnal building in Hampstead. I've photographed it before. It always looks great this time of year.)


  1. Sometimes you can travel so far down a road that it becomes virtually impossible to turn back. Though Paddock was a bad man, you might say that he was also a victim of America's gun culture. It was way too easy for him to get hold of all those horrible weapons.

  2. My first thought was how does some-one acquire all those firearms and ammunition? I guess it is not as difficult as I might think and I certainly had not moved to the the matter of getting them into a hotel room.
    As for the idea that well armed citizens could take out a shooter - doesn't seem to happen too often does it?

    It's all too terrible.


  3. You're right. Nothing about American gun culture will change. There are too many white guys who love guns and view themselves as heroic and manly and American simply because of their love of guns, and these are the guys who run the NRA which runs Congress. Bill O'Reilly was offended, deeply and morally offended, that Hillary Clinton spoke of gun control while the bodies of the Vegas shooting were still in the morgue, but he's pleased as punch to write, at the same time, on his blog that 58 dead at a music festival is "the price of freedom". I am speechless with rage and disgust for this man.

    Virginia creeper. Brits love Virginia creeper. Sorry, I wrote a garden book so I looked into the English love for Virginia creeper and I think it's a nice story about how the gentry went nuts for Virginia creeper the same time they went crazy for the Tulip tree, both native to America, very soon after they were discovered in the first English settlements in the new world, and imported both species starting around 1630. What both the creeper and the tulip tree had, that the English didn't have in their native plants, was spectacular Fall color.

    Here on Long Island the creeper as not started to turn yet. It's still very green.

  4. P.S. That red vine in your wonderful photo is Virginia creeper. I should have made that clearer.

  5. One of my first thoughts about the murders was to wonder how in the world that guy got those weapons up to his room? Las Vegas has more security cameras than anywhere else in the world, I would think. A few at a time, I suppose. But still- did no one get suspicious?
    It's just more than the mind can conceive.

    I was glad to read Vivian Swift's comment. I did not realize the plant in your picture was Virginia Creeper but looking closer, I see it is. I pull that stuff like weeds. I may start to look upon it with new eyes.

  6. all you need to buy any weapon in this country is the amount of money the seller wants for it. and nothing will change. despite that the majority of Americans favor some sort of gun control, they do not apply the needed pressure to get it done. we are, as a whole, perfectly OK with these random massacres.

  7. You ask all the right questions. All the answers are obvious. In many cases there' a wide range of possible answers

  8. I remember when Charles Whitman took to the clock tower and started shooting. I was 13 years old, and it was the first time I had ever heard the word "sniper." All these years and bodies later, we still can't seem to figure out that we need gun control. Enough with the thoughts and prayers, Congress, we need LAWS! Love your fall photo.

  9. I have exactly same thoughts about gun control that you do. I actually thought something would happen after Newtown but if it won't be done for the sake of little children, it won't be done for anyone. There is a bill in the house of reps right now that would actually loosen restrictions on gun silencers and armor piercing bullets. There is speculation in the news that it might be dead after this incident but personally, I doubt it. Right now, I'm just curious about this guy and how he had so many people believing he was just a normal guy. I'd love to hear something from the woman he lived with. Surely she has something to contribute to the mystery. All the papers say is that she was questioned and cleared. Surely you can't live with someone who accumulates 42 weapons and explosives without getting some kind of picture of his mental state.

  10. Apparently the murderer got the guns to his hotel suite in ten suitcases. He must have kept them closed because none of the hotel staff ever noticed any weapons in his rooms. As for gun laws, they are needed in spite of the lobbying of the powerful National Rifle Association but what then of the millions of guns already owned by our fellow citizens. I'm afraid the United States is doomed to further repetitions of the Las Vegas massacre. It is very sad and makes one feel helpless.

  11. Yeah -- I've got no additional words. It's all fucked up.

  12. I believe that gun laws are the only answer, as John Gray has stated so succinctly! But I don't know how you get to that solution. Generations are raised thinking the situation is normal, leading to the culture that exists today. It's part of the very identity of many in the U.S. It's not surprising they resist giving them up, when it's so ingrained.

    As I've said on YP's post today, the fear that people in war-torn countries experience every day has come to the U.S., the difference being that the situation in the U.S. is an avoidable tragedy caused by ready availability of guns. In war people are fighting for something - resources, power, etc. and there is some kind of logic behind it. Deranged peerson on a killing spree? Happens only because there are so many firearms in the country, available legally or otherwise.

  13. I agree with Catalyst that we do need very strict gun laws but how do we reclaim all the guns already in people's possession?
    Every time there is an event like this gun sales only increase. I totally despair of this country's inability to deal with this increasing danger.

  14. For anyone who is wondering the same as Cheryl, above, gun buyback programs have been used in Australia, Argentina, Brazil and numerous states in the USA. Google "gun buyback programs" for more info. There are ways; there has to be a will to do it.